340:2-3-32. Office of Client Advocacy (OCA) investigations
(a) Legal authority, scope, and purpose.
(1) Legal authority.
(A) Section 1-9-112(A)(3)(d) and (e) of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes (10A O.S. § 1-9-112(A)(3)(d) and (e)) gives the Office of Client Advocacy (OCA) the responsibility to investigate allegations of abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and misconduct by a person responsible for the child:
(i) residing outside their own homes regardless of custody, other than children in foster care;
(ii) receiving services from a community services provider or a community services worker, per 56 O.S. § 1025.1;
(B) 43A O.S. § 10-105 gives the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) responsibility to investigate allegations of caretaker abuse, neglect, verbal abuse, and exploitation of vulnerable adults. DHS confers on OCA the responsibility to conduct investigations that involve:
(i) Hissom class members;
(ii) residents of the Robert M. Greer Center (Greer); and
(iii) vulnerable adults receiving services from a community services provider, community services worker, Medicaid personal care services provider, or Medicaid personal care assistant, as those terms are defined in 56 O.S. § 1025.1.
(C) OCA investigates, pursuant to Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:75-3-430, reports alleging denial of medically beneficial treatment by a medical provider to a handicapped infant.
(2) Scope. OCA conducts investigations of maltreatment allegations listed in this subsection. Per 10A O.S. § 1-9-112, OCA investigates allegations of:
(A) abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and caretaker misconduct of children by persons responsible for a child regardless of custody residing outside their own homes, other than children in foster care or children in the custody of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) and placed in an OJA Secure facility as defined by Section 2-1-103 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes. These investigations include, but are not limited to:
(i) in DHS operated or licensed shelters and group homes;
(ii) and children in facilities operated by, licensed by, or contracting with OJA;
(iii) in community-based youth services shelters and community intervention centers that contract with OJA per 10A O.S. § 2-7-305;
(iv) in facilities operated by or contracting with Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS);
(v) in facilities operated by the J.D. McCarty Center of Oklahoma;
(vi) residing in or attending educational classes at facilities operated by the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (ODRS), the Oklahoma School for the Blind and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf; and
(vii) receiving services from a community services worker or community services provider per 56 O.S. § 1025.1;
(B) abuse and neglect of, and caretaker misconduct with regard to, children in day treatment programs per 10 O.S. § 175.20, including sanctions programs certified by OJA to provide programming for children who are court ordered to participate in that program;
(C) abuse, neglect, verbal abuse, and caretaker misconduct with regard to, residents of Greer;
(D) abuse, neglect, verbal abuse, and exploitation of Hissom class members living in Oklahoma and who do not reside in a private intermediate care facility for the intellectually disabled (ICF/ID); and
(E) abuse, neglect, verbal abuse, and exploitation of vulnerable adults receiving services from a community services worker, community services provider, Medicaid personal care services provider, or Medicaid personal care assistant, per 56 O.S. § 1025.1.
(3) Purpose. OCA conducts independent and objective investigations of suspected maltreatment of clients by PRFCIs and vulnerable adult caretakers (VACs) in order to:
(A) protect clients from further maltreatment;
(B) deter and prevent maltreatment;
(C) provide relevant evidence in administrative and judicial proceedings;
(D) rule out unfounded allegations; and
(E) hold violators accountable.
(b) Confidentiality of Office of Client Advocacy records. State and federal statutes and regulations including, but not limited to, 10A O.S. § 1-9-112(C); 10A O.S. § 1-6-102; 56 O.S. § 183; 43A O.S. § 10-110; and OAC 340:65-1-2 require confidentiality for certain DHS records. Information regarding clients is confidential and protected from unauthorized use. Only authorized individuals are permitted access to case records or provided information from OCA case records. • 1
(1) OCA investigations involving children. Statutes and policies regarding the confidentiality of OCA files, records, and reports relating to investigations involving children include, but are not limited to, the confidentiality provisions of the statutes and policies listed in (A) through (C) of this paragraph.
(A) 10A O.S. §§ 2-6-102 through 106 applies to OCA investigations involving children in OJA custody and in facilities that contract with OJA.
(B) 10A O.S. §§ 1-2-106, 1-2-107, 1-6-102 et seq., and 1-6-107 applies to investigations involving children, regardless of custody, residing outside their own homes.
(C) OAC 340:75-1-42 through 340:75-1-46 applies to OCA investigations involving children in DHS custody, including information regarding placement.
(2) OCA investigations involving vulnerable adults. Statutes and policies regarding the confidentiality of OCA files, records, and reports relating to investigations involving vulnerable adults include, but are not limited to, (A) through (C) of this paragraph.
(A) Disclosure to meet client's protection and other needs. When consulting persons knowledgeable of the circumstances of an alleged victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, or when making other contacts as part of the investigation or service planning process, OCA staff may disclose information necessary to ensure the client is protected and the client's needs are met. Information may be disclosed for this purpose without a court order to specific persons acting in an official capacity with regard to the investigation, including:
(i) a district attorney or employees of the district attorney's office;
(ii) the attorney representing an alleged victim in the matter under investigation;
(iii) staff of an Oklahoma law enforcement agency or a law enforcement agency of another state;
(iv) physical or mental health care professionals involved in the evaluation or treatment of the vulnerable adult;
(v) the guardian of the vulnerable adult, in the form of a summary of the allegations in the referral;
(vi) the provider for a vulnerable adult; and
(vii) other public or private agencies or persons authorized by DHS to diagnose, or provide care, treatment, supervision, or other services to a person who is the subject of an OCA investigation.
(B) Disclosure to district attorney and law enforcement. District attorneys and staff, the attorney representing the alleged victim, and law enforcement agencies may receive information from the Advocate General or review the entire case record. All other disclosures are limited to summaries of information provided for a specific purpose. Case information from OCA records is not released for research purposes without the prior approval of the advocate general.
(C) Disclosure to others and the news media. In other situations, OCA investigative information is considered confidential per 43A O.S. § 10-110(A) and may be disclosed only by court order. Confidentiality applies to members of the news media as well as the general public. News media representatives requesting information on a specific case are referred to the advocate general, the OCA programs administrator for investigations, or the DHS Office of Communications for a detailed explanation of DHS confidentiality rules.
1.(a) Staff responsibilities.Office of Client Advocacy (OCA) staff are familiar with relevant Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) policies, including, but not limited to, Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) OAC 340:2-3-1 et seq., 340:75-1-42 through 340:75-1-45, 340:5, and 340:100-3-2.All staff members are responsible for ensuring case information, whether recorded or unrecorded, is treated in a professional manner consistent with DHS policy. Failure to comply with DHS policies, and state and federal laws regarding confidentiality, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and The Privacy Rule, may result in criminal and administrative sanctions.
(b) Computer data.Client and case record data stored in computer systems and available through computer screens, reports, and other printouts is confidential and is protected in the same manner as other confidential information.Passwords and sign-on codes are confidential and are not exchanged among staff or routinely posted.Terminals are not left unattended and confidential information is not left showing on a screen in view of unauthorized persons.
(c) Subpoenas.A state court subpoena or subpoena duces tecum purporting to compel disclosure of OCA records is not valid per Section 1-6-102of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes.When a petition, motion, subpoena, subpoena duces tecum, or any other request or application for release of a DHS record is received by an OCA employee, the employee immediately notifies the OCA programs administrator for investigations and the advocate general.